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Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)

Social Anxiety Disorder, or Social Phobia, is characterized by extreme anxiety about being judged by others or behaving in a way that might cause embarrassment or ridicule. This intense anxiety may lead to avoidance behavior. Physical symptoms associated with this disorder include heart palpitations, faintness, blushing and profuse sweating.

Social Phobia is characterized by an intense fear of situations, usually social or performance situations, where embarrassment may occur. Individuals with the disorder are acutely aware of the physical signs of their anxiety and fear that others will notice, judge them, and think poorly of them. This fear often results in extreme anxiety in anticipation of an activity, a Panic Attack when faced with an activity, or in the avoidance of an activity altogether. Adults usually recognize that their fears are unfounded or excessive, but suffer them nonetheless.

Symptoms of Social Phobia manifest themselves physically and can include:
· palpitations
· tremors
· sweating
· diarrhea
· confusion
· blushing

People with Social Phobia tend to be sensitive to criticism and rejection, have difficulty asserting themselves, and suffer from low self-esteem. The most common fears associated with the disorder are a fear of speaking in public or to strangers, a fear of meeting new people, and performance fears (activities that may potentially be embarrassing). Sufferers may fear more than one type of social setting.

Onset of the disorder is usually in mid to late adolescence, but children have also been diagnosed with Social Phobia. Children with the disorder are prone to excessive shyness, clinging behavior, tantrums and even acute mutism. There is usually a marked decline in school performance and the child will often try to avoid going to school or taking part in age appropriate social activities. Their fears are centered on peer settings rather than social activities involving adults, with whom they may feel more comfortable. For a child to be diagnosed with Social Phobia, symptoms must persist for at least six months.



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